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Rebuilding Haiti - Mission impossible?

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Claudia Bradshaw Claudia Bradshaw | 10:30 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Mark has just sent this post to me: There's nothing like a 2 hour delay on a runway during a storm for you to bond with your fellow passengers. We were on our way to Haiti from Miami but - not for the first time - mother nature was having a say. As the thunder and lightning raged around us, I got chatting to the women either side of me. Both Haiti "veterans" and both on their way there to try to help out.

One was working with the Americans trying to educate Haitians on things agricultural. The other was working for a charity which was delivering two crate loads of goods for the hundreds of thousands of people still living in camps.

The "comfort packs" she was bringing in contained everything from solar powered radios and flashlights to toilet rolls and tampons. She showed me pictures on her laptop of the extraordinary cottage industry in the U.S that - using hundreds of volunteers - had brought these donations together and cut through the red tape to deliver them.

Both were committed to public service but both also felt that what they were doing was merely scratching the surface. During our conversation we even talked about the informed opinion held in some quarters that maybe Haiti shouldn't be agricultural at all with its deforested, hard and crowded land.


When we got to Port Au Prince you could see what they meant. James and Richard on the team have been here before and James in particular has been here several times since the terrible events of January 12.

You had to wonder how this teeming city thrived before the earthquake which killed 300 thousand people and forced another 900 thousand out of the capital.


The traffic was slow, the roads full of craters and there were people everywhere. We went to the centre where the public buildings were devastated. Rubble was everywhere but life was sort of going on: there were stalls selling bananas, plastic toys, paintings. There were smartly turned out school children on their way home and the colourful "tap-tap" buses full to the brim.


In the background a beautiful sunset was beginning to show but at times you had trouble seeing it through the smoke of a thousand small fires around the market place.
If you were either of the two women I'd been chatting to on the plane you would have been thinking about the reconstruction in terms of "where on earth do you start?"


We are here to present two editions of WHYS- on Wednesday from an orphanage and on Thursday from one of the many camps, who's blue-tented roofs you can see spread across the city from the air as you come in to land.


We will talk about what can be done, how people are coping and touch upon what many have told us is brewing : a sense of rising anger at what people see as an inept government and foreigners who they see as only looking after themselves.


The rainy season is here, that is followed by the hurricane season and then what? Although you have to admire the people's incredible resilience and fortitude, you do wonder if things will get worse before they get better.


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